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The Indian conglomerate is open to selling up to 40 per cent of its subsidiary to the e-commerce giant, sources told Bloomberg. Reliance is also soliciting investment from firms that have backed its Jio Platforms telecommunications and digital division, according to Reuters. (BloombergQuint, Reuters)

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Talking point: JioMart, Reliance’s major e-commerce foray, launched in May, is trying to put small merchants online. Two years ago, those same kirana stores formed an effective political lobby driving New Delhi to make rules in ways that targeted Amazon, as well as Walmart-owned Flipkart’s practice of selling products from their own subsidiaries via their marketplaces; CEO Jeff Bezos promised US$1 billion to add small merchants to the platform to mollify them. Reliance’s domestic clout, the audience provided by its market-leading wireless carrier, and its recent US$3.4-billion deal for brick-and-mortar giant Future Group—which brings in stores, wholesale and logistics assets, and removes a potential grocery competitor—all make it an attractive partner.

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The pension firm finished the first half of the year with net assets of $204.7 billion, down from $207.4 billion at the end of 2019. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Ontario Teachers’ entered 2020 with 46 per cent, or $93 billion, of its investments in fixed income. It sold off about half of much of that to offset losses from private assets like retail real estate, airports and the energy sector. Fixed income is now down to 23 per cent, or $48 billion. In October 2019, chief investment officer Ziad Hindo told The Logic his firm was getting ready for a potential recession. Teachers’ also shifted its money market exposure significantly, going from negative $79 billion in investments to negative $24 billion. The pension added a new line to its financial statement, innovation, which currently includes a $2.3 billion portfolio that contains five firms including SpaceX and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners. That makes up one per cent of Teachers’ current assets but the fund said it could grow to as much as seven per cent.

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The China-based firm is set to list on June 18, and is looking to raise between US$3.8 billion and US$4.3 billion. (Financial Times)

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Talking point: JD.com is one of a number of Chinese firms looking to markets closer to home amid tensions between Beijing and Washington. Gaming company NetEase is currently selling US$2.7 billion in shares in its own Hong Kong secondary offering. Alibaba raised US$13 billion in a Hong Kong offering last year. Some large tech firms initially listed in the U.S. because Hong Kong didn’t allow dual-class share voting, but that requirement has since been eased. The return to Hong Kong doesn’t mean U.S. exchanges aren’t seeing plenty of their own IPO action. Legend Biotech, the subsidiary of a Hong Kong-listed firm, and Dada Nexus, a Chinese e-commerce firm, priced their shares Thursday, in the U.S., raising a combined US$759 million.

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Consumers will need to scan government-issued IDs, such as driver’s licences, to access the store. The scanner, which is operated by PatronScan, will collect a name, date of birth, the first three letters of postal code and gender. (Edmonton Journal)

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Talking point: PatronScan signed up its first customer in British Columbia back in 2006. It’s attracted a steady stream of praise from bars and other establishments that use its service, and controversy from privacy advocates ever since. The system allows a single venue to ban a customer for up to five years from locations that use its technology. In cities like Sacramento, where many bars are legally required to use such technology, that can effectively serve as a city-wide ban. The firm currently has over 40,000 banned customers. Alcanna, which is one of the largest liquor retailers in Canada, is trying to cut down on liquor store thefts. Edmonton police responded to over 9,500 liquor store thefts in 2019, up from 3,273 in 2018. There are some signs that this one store could be the first of many, both for Alcanna (which has the most private-sector alcohol-retail locations of any firm in Canada) and for other firms in the province. The scanner is part of a provincial government pilot program looking at ways to cut down on liquor store thefts.

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The company is adding a walkie-talkie feature to its Teams office-messaging platform. Its Dynamics Commerce software includes tools for inventory management, scheduling, as well as both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar operations. Ikea, Canada Goose and Walgreens Boots Alliance are among the retailers using Microsoft’s cloud, security and other services.(Bloomberg)

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Talking point: Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the clear cloud leader, with US$25.7 billion of the US$48.1 billion “hyperscale” cloud market—the term for the very biggest companies—in 2018, according to a February 2019 report from Toronto’s Structure Research. But rivals like Microsoft are targeting retail customers as a way to gain market share—firms in the sector aren’t keen to give more revenue to such a profitable subsidiary of a giant against whom they compete in their primary business. Google launched AI inventory and demand-prediction tools in April 2019. Amazon’s retail dominance has been similarly good for other service providers—delivery firm Instacart signed grocery chains like Kroger and Loblaw after Amazon bought Whole Foods.

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Real gross domestic product dipped in October for the first time since February. Wholesale trade dipped one per cent and retail trade dropped 1.1 per cent, its largest decline since March 2016. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The trade dip was partially caused by the summer closures of several auto manufacturing plants, as well as the September strike by GM workers in the U.S. The strike also affected retail, with motor vehicle and parts dealers down two per cent. Retail’s difficulties were broad-based, however, with 10 of 12 subsectors dipping. Farm products were a rare bright point, jumping 6.7 per cent, though that may not carry through to November’s numbers, which will include a CN Rail strike that limited some farmers’ ability to get their products to market. The professional, scientific and technical sector continued its stream of increases since February 2018, led by computer systems, which saw a 0.9 per cent jump.

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Canadians bought fewer cars, construction materials and gardening supplies, spurring a 1.2 per cent decline in retail sales to $50.9 billion in October. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Overall, sales were down in eight of 11 subsectors and in six provinces, including Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Canadians haven’t felt much like renovating or planting flowers, with sales at building material and gardening supplies dealers down for the fourth month in a row. Vehicle sales suffered the brunt of their tightening pursestrings, with a 5.2 per cent drop at used car dealerships—the largest decrease since September 2017. It is a marked change from a year ago, when higher vehicle sales helped propel a modest increase in retail sales. The drop prompted some analysts to muse about an imminent rate cut from the Bank of Canada.